10 Things You Will Absolutely Love About Edinburgh

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It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Edinburgh. I’ve been here for almost six months now and I keep finding new reasons to love this place (although the weather’s not one of them). There’s something incredibly captivating about Edinburgh, and I have yet to meet someone who has visited the city and not been enthralled by it.
Here are 10 things that make Edinburgh an amazing place to visit and live in. Hopefully it’ll be enough to inspire you to travel to this much-loved city.
1. THE GREEN SPACES
Edinburgh is the greenest city in the UK. There are parks and gardens scattered across the city, the most popular being Princess Street Gardens right in the heart of the city, and The Meadows, a favourite spot among University students and festival performers. These green spaces make up for the lack of pedestrianised streets in Edinburgh, serving as a retreat from the hordes of tourists and heavy traffic in the city centre.
Other quiet green areas in Edinburgh include Inverleith Park and Holyrood Park. If you’re up for a wee adventure, take a walk up Arthur’s Seat and spend a few minutes inhaling the clean Scottish air. You can also have a picnic on Calton Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth.
2. THE FREE MUSEUMS
OK, let’s be a bit realistic for a second – you’re more likely to be spending time indoors than having picnics in the parks when you’re in Edinburgh. Thankfully, there’s enough to keep you busy on a rainy day as most museums in Edinburgh are free. Yep, you can immerse yourself in the history of Scotland without spending a penny, although you are expected to leave a donation when visiting a museum.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
There’s The National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Edinburgh and The People’s Story Museum for history buffs, and The Writer’s Museum and The Scottish National Gallery for art and literature lovers. I also recommend visiting The Museum of Childhood and popping into St. Giles’ Cathedral.
3. THE SPOOKY ALLEYS
On an overcast day, Edinburgh looks like something straight out of a Victorian ghost story. The Old Town is laced with narrow alleys cutting through towering tenement buildings. Some of these alleys are reputedly haunted, while others harbour a hidden shop or restaurant, making them less formidable.
If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll definitely have a good time taking photos of the narrow lanes leading off the Royal Mile. Advocate’s Close and Anchor Close are possibly the most photographed alleys in the Old Town, while Mary King’s Close is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh.
4. THE BUS SERVICE
I can honestly say that so far I have never been let down by Edinburgh’s bus services. They are efficient, reliable and convenient – just make sure you always have the exact amount of change for the bus (£1.70 for a single ticket, and £4.00 for a day ticket).
You don’t really need to get a bus to explore the city centre – Edinburgh is quite a small city and can be easily explored on foot. However, you might want to take a few day trips to nearby towns and attractions, such as Craigmillar Castle, Rosslyn Chapel and the gorgeous seaside towns of South Queensferry and North Berwick.
You don’t really need to get a bus to explore the city centre – Edinburgh is quite a small city and can be easily explored on foot. However, you might want to take a few day trips to nearby towns and attractions, such as Craigmillar Castle, Rosslyn Chapel and the gorgeous seaside towns of South Queensferry and North Berwick.
5. THE QUIRKY COFFEE SHOPS
Edinburgh is packed with cosy coffee shops. Many of them serve artisan coffee and delicious handcrafted treats, but what I love most about coffee shops in Edinburgh is that they all have quirky and original decor. If you want to explore Edinburgh’s coffee culture, head to Bruntsfield Place, South Bridge, Clerk Street and Cockburn Street.
Check out this blog post about some of my favourite places for coffee and cake in Edinburgh.
6. THE OFFBEAT FESTIVALS
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe hardly needs any introduction. This world-famous event draws thousands of tourists to the Scottish capital every year. However, there are a few other festivals held throughout the year which are also well-attended, though a bit more offbeat.
The Beltane Fire Festival has become one of the most anticipated events in Edinburgh. Held on the eve of May Day, this festival is a re-interpretation of the old pagan ritual of Beltane. A similar event is the Samhuinn Fire Festival on Halloween, which celebrates the Celtic New Year with lots of drums and fire. Both events are organised by the Beltane Fire Society.
If you’re planning to attend the Beltane Fire Festival, here’s what you need to know.
7. THE CITY VIEWS
There are plenty of places in Edinburgh where you can get a stunning view of the city without having to pay for it – although you’ll definitely sweat for it! Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill offer panoramic views of the city and they’re both a great spot for watching the sunset in summer.
I also recommend walking up to the castle from Princes Street Gardens. There are a couple of steep paths zigzagging up Castle Rock, where you can see almost all of the New Town and as far as the Firth of Forth. The Roof Garden at the National Museum of Scotland (free entrance) is also a great place to soak up some amazing city views.
8. THE HIP NEIGHBOURHOODS
A great way to explore the lesser-known side of Edinburgh is to go for a walk along the Water of Leith. Start from Dean Village, a quiet residential area with quaint houses, and walk along the river towards Stockbridge, known for its gorgeous cafes, vintage shops and Sunday food market. Keep walking along the river until you arrive in Leith.
Leith used to have a very bad reputation, but it has recently become one of the hippest areas in Edinburgh. Besides being home to the Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith also boasts a thriving food and arts scene.
9. THE PUB SCENE
If you want to get a taste of Edinburgh’s burgeoning beer and whiskey culture, spend a night or two bar-hopping in the New Town. Rose Street is a great place for pub crawls. This pedestrianised street is packed with bars and pubs, and is one of the liveliest places at night.
Another great (and less busy) place for a good night out is The Shore in Leith. The cobbled streets on the waterfront are lined with bistros and pubs that specialise in craft beers and seafood.
10. THE GRISLY HISTORY
Edinburgh’s history is laden with tales of torture, murder and grave-robbing. Going on a two-hour tour of Edinburgh’s bloody history is like watching a full season of Game of Thrones. Almost every street in the Old Town has a gruesome story to tell, and things get grislier as you venture into the underground vaults.
Explore the sinister side of Edinburgh by taking a ghost or history tour through some of the eeriest places in the city, including Mary King’s Close, Greyfriars Kirkyard and the South Bridge Vaults.
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Have you been to Edinburgh?
What did you love most about the city?
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Daniela Frendo

Daniela Frendo

Hi! I'm a Maltese blogger based in Scotland. I created Grumpy Camel to help travellers connect with places through culture, history and cuisine.
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